COLUMBUS – There has been disappointment in some quarters over the play of the offensive line through the first three games. The pass blocking has been good, but the running game has not been what was expected. Additionally, holding calls have been a problem. Ryan Day was asked about the play of the offensive line against Rutgers, and while he wasn’t satisfied with it, he didn’t exactly throw that unit under the bus either.
“It was a mixed bag,” said Day. “There were some really good plays. There were a couple of movement plays (movement by the defensive line) where we got our hands outside.” said Day.
First-year starting guard Harry Miller drew three holding penalties in the first half, but Miller played pretty clean in the second half. As far as how OSU rushed in the game, Day pointed to the numbers.
“200 yards rushing is a pretty good day,” he said.
Tight End Efficiency
Jeremy Ruckert came to OSU with a reputation as a pass-catcher. Since he arrived he as added another facet to his game; blocking.
“He’s done a good job in the running game,” said Day.
“He’s finding guys. Against Rutgers he had several knockdown blocks.”
Ruckert is also showing that his reputation as a receiving target is warranted.
“He’s making plays in the redzone,” said Day.
“His versatility as a both a blocker and a receiver makes him a valuable piece of our offense.”
Limited Garbage Time
The Buckeyes were hoping to get reps for younger players against Rutgers, and with a 35-3 halftime lead it looked like they would, but when Rutgers’ offense came to life the first group ended up playing longer than expected.
“We considered taking Justin out at the half,” said Day. “Had we scored right away in the second half we probably would have.”
Day is concerned that the backups are not getting enough playing time, particularly since practice reps were very limited leading into the season due to the Covid crisis. His hopes to play them early against Rutgers went out the window when Rutgers refused to roll over.
“When they scored in the second half we had to leave Justin in the game,” Day said.
Extraordinary Skill Set
Garrett Wilson has had his three-straight 100-yard receiving games. Day is not surprised by that because Wilson has all the tools to be a great one.
“He has so much talent. He’s tremendously skilled. His ball skills are excellent and he executes,” said Day.
“He has great ability to change directions and the ability to accelerate in a short distance.”
It was Day who recruited Wilson out of high school. Day says he knew when he saw him at a high school practice just how good Wilson could be.
“When I saw him then I knew he could be just what he is today,” said Day.
On the Move
Justin Fields has been spectacular as a passer this season. A big component of that is the amount of time he has had to throw. That is certainly a function of offensive line play, but also entering into that equation is the fact that OSU is moving Day around in the pocket.
“Moving the launch point is always good,” said Day.
“It helps with the blocking and extends routes,” Day said.
The cornerback position was not exactly deep before the season-ending injury to starter Cameron Brown. With Brown’s absence, the Buckeyes are looking to young players to grow up fast and provide much-needed depth. Freshman Ryan Watts got into the game against Rutgers and got his feet wet, but Day is still looking for manpower.
“I think the young DBs, all of them, are going to have to help us,” said Day.
“It was good to see Ryan in there.”
Another freshman who could help is Legond Cavasos. Cavasos has been injured this fall but is now practicing.
“We’re trying to get Legond into the mix,” said Day. “There’s a lot of things that go into that though.”
The transfer portal has become sort of a revolving door for quarterbacks. Often if a quarterback fails to earn a starting position when it is available he uses the portal to find a better opportunity. OSU recruited two highly ranked quarterbacks i the last recruiting cycle in Jack Miller and C. J. Stroud. They also have a commitment in the next class from five-star QB Kyle McCord. Does Day worry that all the talented quarterbacks might result in a stamped to the transfer portal if they don’t win a starting job?
“If a quarterback is coming here he’s coming to win the Heisman, to win a national championship, to be a first-round draft choice,” said Day.
“He can progress toward all that in this passing system and learn drop-back passing. We want guys who want to play, but we also want guys who don’t mind having to compete. How is he going to be a first-round choice if he can’t win the position here?
“There’s such a thing of needing more than one quarterback in a season to reach your goals. In 2014 we needed three of them.”
Not Looking Past Maryland
Next up for the Buckeyes are the Maryland Terrapins, fresh off an impressive win over Penn State.
“They are playing with a lot of confidence, playing really well,” said Day.
“They have talent on the outside at corner and at the receiver positions, some really good receivers. They’re dangerous right now. They are better this year than they have been in recent years.”